I know you all had so much fun with the last one, I thought I’d give you a chance to shine again.
Your partner has opened with one heart.
You make the following bids, but what does each mean?
Two hearts means you have six to nine points and at least three hearts.
Three hearts is preemptive and just says you have a lot of hearts and very few (six at least) points.
Four hearts means you have five hearts, a singleton or a void. This is a must and less than 10 points.
Two-no trump indicates you have at least four hearts and 13 high card points, which is a convention and very useful.
One spade means you have at least six points – but unlimited at this point – less than three hearts and at least four spades.
Now if partner had opened one spade all these hold true, using spades, except if you have less than 10 points, only one or two spades and five hearts, you cannot bid 2 hearts. But you must bid something with six or more points unless pesky opponent has thrown in a bid, which gives you a lot of options.
Say the pesky opponent has not given you the option of doubling for the other two suits. It’s negative and suggesting only four hearts, but that’s the best you can do for now).
Here is where the one notrump forcing bid comes in so handily. In the past it meant three less than the opener’s major suit and a balanced hand but now it means, “Partner, tell me more about your hand.”When the one no-trump is bid, the other partner must say, “alert.”
There was an incident that this alert was made at a game, and the novice opponent said, “I am alert.”
Now there, again, are many options.
So here are some hands you might use the no-trump force with…only after partner has bid either a heart or spade.
With the spade bid and here is your hand:
Q J x x – hearts
x x x – diamonds
x x x – clubs
You first start with how many points you have which is seven. In olden days this one no trump would mean just that, but in this case, you are waiting to hear opening partner’s next bid.
If he bids either of the minor suits, you must say, “alert” and if asked what it means, it means “may be short.” You would then bid two spades with two (partner knows you have only two or you would have raised the first time. If partner had rebid spades, now showing six you could raise in spades and not use this convention which would say the same thing as if he had opened in one spade and you had said two, meaning you had three. In this case, you now know he has six with some distribution points that he cannot add until he gets support. He has shown a limit bid of six spades, 12-14 points, and probably will pass unless he has a wildly distributed hand.
If he bids two hearts, you can pass. If he jumps in hearts, you will go to game in hearts. If he bids two no-trump, he is saying he has 15-17 points, could have opened a no trump, but had a five (or more) card major. You pass that with these seven points or go to game with 10 or more.
This is the language of bridge and has, of course, many other situations. It would be hard for party bridge players to do all this unless everyone understands all of it. And as a past member of some clubs, I remember that many times we had a fill-in who probably would not know.
As a hostess once, I was to find a fill in and I asked a nice lady if she played bridge. Her answer was, “Oh, I think I can hold my own” so I gave her the details as to date and time and she showed up.
When the game began, she called me over and asked, “Are clubs higher than diamonds or the other way around?”
Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.